In my recent musings about MMOs (WoW in particular) falling off in terms of popularity, it got me thinking when discussing it with my tech friend Thym at work that part of the reason for this may be the fact that they eventually become work.
Sure you emerge starry-eyed into whatever world you chose to set foot in, learning the basics, slaying monsters, getting new gear and immersing yourself in the vastness that lies before you as you materialize out of thin air at level 1 in the starting zone.
Most hardcore MMO players will tell you however that you are playing toward the holy grail. The ever touted “end-game”. The section when you reach the level cap and the true challenge awaits you.
It is at this point you begin to run dungeons with much higher challenges and phatter lootz. You then get to run dungeons with more people and even higher-er challenges with phatter-er lootzes. From this point you run dungeons with a school classroom sized number of people for the phattest lootz and highest challenges of them all.
This is not fun.
It might seem that way at first, but from playing WoW and SD Gundam Online, I have come to find out that many people who live for that higher challenge are very elitist and that online gaming is serious business.
It is in many instances that people who reach this stage but *gasp* have responsibilities away from the computer may not be able to make the 3 PM EST raids scheduled for Tuesdays and Fridays every week and thus lose their “spot” in their raid group.
This, in turn, essentially takes away your ability to play the game with your main character and diminishes the fun one has with the game.
Sure, you can find another guild but, as stated before, the general populous in online games (play any match in Halo, Call of Duty, League of Legends or run anything in any MMO) are a bunch of immature assholes who are all kinds of eager to shoot you down and malign you for not knowing how to play or not being serious enough to commit hours of your life each week to said game.
Similar problems crop up in free-to-play titles such as SDGO, and many mobile and browser games.
I once had an issue in SDGO where I wasn’t willing to pay continually for a set of AOE damage items to farm a mission. I had the right mobile suit for the mission. I’d studied how to complete the mission. Yet I was kicked out of the room and harassed by the room leader for “being useless” and when telling him I’d completed the mission prior without said item he assumed I’d done so “as a burden”.
I’d put many hours into the game prior to this, but I wasn’t given a chance to show what I could do because I “wasn’t committed enough”.
With mobile and browser titles, many times the problem comes from an “energy bar”. A bar that can be replenished with items (that you buy with money for a small fee) or by bugging your entire social network to join the game netting you an energy recharge and the publisher another stream of revenue for when your extended circle of friends are now all playing Candy Crush Saga.
Chances are, at some point they will get impatient and buy just one set of whatever energy recovery item is in the game. They think, “What the hell? It’s only a buck.” and the publisher banks on the fact that many people take this attitude. If one million people part with just $1, they just made $1,000,000.
For a free-to-play color matching game.
For those of us not willing to make that monetary commitment, the game becomes an arbitrary waiting game, or a part-time job of constantly bugging our friends to play, not only annoying your friends, but taking much of the fun out of the game.
Though the term “casual gamer” is not used as derisively as it used to be, there are still very clear lines drawn when you begin to play an MMO or free-to-play mass appeal title. If you don’t treat said games as a job and be willing to dedicate hours of your life to what should be a hobby, you won’t be able to continually enjoy the game.
You’ll hit a paywall, or not have enough hours in the day to keep up with the rest of your guild in the hours of arduous grind that accompanies these games. Most of us have to commit 8 hours a day to a job away from the computer.
And at least we get paid for it.
(Archived rant, original post from Tumblr on July 12th, 2013)